My second carving of the recently-excavated Bronze Age Must Farm wooden box, found along with other remarkable archaeological remains in a collapsed roundhouse in the Fens, has left me with more questions. That’s what fact-finding is for.
As you can see from the photos, it’s a lovely little box, small and delicate. Vicky Herring’s fabulous drawings show more details, including the suggestion of an interior seat for a lid. But no lid was found with the surviving parts of the box.
Maybe it had a lid but at the time of the round house fire and collapse this had been taken off and left somewhere else. Maybe the lid fell away in the collapse and will be found in lower deposits. Maybe it burnt up in the fire.
So should I carve a lid? The only evidence is negative evidence – the seat inside the box, which itself is partial. Not much to go on.
Well, what use is a box without a lid? Especially a small box like this that ought to have little treasures tucked away in it.
The wood is so green – the tree was cut down just a few weeks ago – that the sap was coming out of fibres as I cut them. The lid is very thin, especially as I cut out a recessed panel like those in the long sides and base of the excavated box. The surface area is therefore large in comparison to the volume of wood; this means that the very green wood can dry out really fast. And even faster, because I brought the box and lid into my warm house. So already the lid has shrunk. It’s not such a good fit as when I first made it just 24 hours ago.
There are two choices. Make the box from green wood or from seasoned wood. Each has advantages and disadvantages. I can’t wait to find out more about the wood that the Bronze Age box is made of. Hopefully the post-excavation analysis will reveal the species of tree.